Monday, April 11, 2011

More observations

I have become extremely fond of cafes. Yesterday I went to one next to the train station to read over a journal article manuscript. I had an espresso and water. Allison sat next to me with her Kindle and a Fanta. This was what was in front of me. How on earth am I ever going to settle for working in my office again?

Some recent observations:
  • It's not uncommon for men here to carry small manbags or wear fanny packs.
  • The local dogs seem especially well-behaved, even off-leash.
  • People around here often carry plastic shopping bags from various stores. Most ubiquitous are Konzum's red and green ones, which cost an extra kuna but are pretty heavyweight. But today I saw someone with an H&M bag--H&M just opened here last week.
  • The waiters in cafes seem genuinely pleased when they are tipped, even if it's only a kuna (less than 20 cents). And most of them work very hard, often having to walk long distances between the sidewalk tables and the bar.
  • I don't often see the other residents of my building, but when I do, we exchange dobar dans. Except one older guy who always just grunts at me. In my opinion, if someone has seen your underwear hanging on a clothesline you can at least say dobar dan to her.
  • Unlike my neighbors, I choose not to hang my underwear outside. Towels and sheets go on the outside lines, the rest stay on my indoor drying rack.
  • People here are not patient about waiting. They're not really rude about it, but they don't like lines and they are always in a hurry to get on or off of trams. On the other hand, they don't seem any more punctual than Americans.
  • Things get done here...eventually. Like the tree that was chopped down about a week ago down the block, and is still ther in pieces. I suppose eventually someone will take it away. Or my building, in which intercoms were installed in January. In late Feb or so they patched the holes, and someday they will repaint the walls.
  • People here are proud of their foods. I hear a lot of "You have to try this" and "This is our traditional...." I don't blame them. There's a very wide variety of foods, influenced by many cultures, and all delicious.
  • I like the relatively small size of Zagreb, especially the center. If you talk about a particular restaurant or ince cream place, everyone knows exactly what which one you mean. And people run into friends and acquaintances often--even I have a couple of times!
  • My Croatian students write better English than many of my American ones.
  • Toddlers the world over love to chase pigeons.
  • Zagreb must have more shoe stores per capita than any place on earth.
  • Although Croatians are proud of their country, when they speak to me they often compare aspects of it unfavorably to the US. I don't know if they're being polite, or maybe all the US media they get here makes the US seem bigger and better.
  • Things in US politics that seem strange to me--opposition to universal health care, obsession with gun ownership--are downright mystifying to Croatians.


  1. I enjoyed all of your observations, but my favorite has to be: In my opinion, if someone has seen your underwear hanging on a clothesline you can at least say dobar dan to her. Followed closely by the pigeon-chasing toddlers and the mysteries of US health care and gun ownership. Good post!

  2. Wow, my ill-behaved mutt seems disturbingly American right now.

  3. I like all your pics and entries in your blog. And now, I've a question:
    Isn't it normal in the US to dry the clothes outside? I mean here you don't see the clothesline out of the window (at least not here where I live but in Berlin I saw it very often). Here the people hang the clothes in their gardens or at their balconies. My Mum has clotheslines in their garden (mobile ones - she put them away, when she don't use them). That's pretty normal. I also saw it Paris and Munich and other big Citys. Maybe it's an European thing. And it doesn't matters if it's underwear or socks or jeans or whatever.